My thanks go to Rob Culbert for writing the Bird News while I got a new left hip. I think I worked extra hard on recovery exercises as I knew I was missing fall migration! My bird feeders kept me from going completely stir crazy. October 4 the feeders went up and we had our usual visitors, plus both male and female eastern towhees and eastern phoebes. Eastern bluebirds arrived Oct. 7. Our first myrtle (yellow-rumped) warbler appeared in the bird bath Oct. 10 as well as our first white-throated sparrow.

Bob Shriber and family came to visit on Oct. 11 and spotted two yellow-bellied sapsuckers on the sycamore maple outside our window. Flip Harrington spotted a single yellow-bellied sapsucker at Quansoo on Oct. 13. At the feeders we had our first field sparrow and a clay-colored sparrow in with the chipping sparrows. October 15 a great blue heron flew over the house and we had a hairy woodpecker join our downy woodpeckers at the suet. A brown thrasher came to our bird bath on Oct. 17 and Flip spotted an osprey and another yellow-bellied sapsucker at Quansoo. The brown thrasher returned on Oct. 19 along with a pair of gray catbirds and our first of the season American goldfinches. Later in the day, one yellow-bellied sapsucker made an appearance on that same maple. Our first of the season red-bellied woodpecker arrived on Oct. 20 along with the first dark-eyed juncos, and we counted 25 mourning doves!

When I read in the Bird News that orange-crowned warblers were being seen at Aquinnah I couldn’t stand it anymore. With cane in hand I had Flip drive me to Aquinnah on Oct. 18 and in the parking lot, thanks to the help from Ken Magnuson, Bob Shriber, Allan Keith and Jeff Bernier who showed us where they had seen the orange-crowned warbler earlier, Flip found the bird and I was able to see it well. We also saw a blackpoll warbler and a swamp sparrow. I am back in the saddle!

Bird Sightings

There are many sightings from Oct. 14 to 21, so I will start with the most recent.

An orange-crowned warbler. — Lanny McDowell

Bob Shriber found the passerine flight of the day, before non-existent, on Oct. 21, but spotted all three species of scoters off Gay Head as well as a few northern gannets and great cormorants. Tim and Sheila Baird counted 12 brant at Ocean Park, three great egrets at Sengekontacket Pond and a peregrine falcon at Atlantic Drive at Katama.

October 20 there was an impressive group of birders at Aquinnah, including Tim Spahr, Bob Shriber, Lanny McDowell, Mark Foster and Sue McCoy. Their highlights included the following warblers: northern parula, Nashville, black-throated green and palm. The crew also spotted both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, American pipits, rusty blackbirds, bobolinks, cedar waxwings, purple finches and dark-eyed juncos. Both winter and house wrens were seen as well as chipping, white-crowned and fields sparrows. The raptors seen included sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, merlins and an osprey. Lanny McDowell was along Lighthouse Road and the Gay Head Moraine, where he added a brown creeper and an eastern phoebe.

At the other end of the Island the same day, Ken Magnuson photographed both blue-winged and green-winged teal and two wood ducks at the Edgartown Golf Club. He also sent blue-headed vireo, palm warbler and ruby-crowned kinglet photos from the Club. Anne Carmichael Lemenager photographed the first brant of the season at Ocean Park. At the Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary Jeff Bernier photographed two belted kingfishers, a pied-billed grebe and a great blue heron. Mid-Island Matt Pelikan heard his first golden crowned kinglet off Lambert’s Cove Road. Tim and Sheila Baird heard two eastern screech owls at 6 the morning of Oct. 20 at their Katama home. Suzie Bowman found a purple finch at one of her feeders in her West Tisbury yard, a first she noted.

Tim Spahr left Aquinnah and continued birding the whole day. His best birds included an American bittern and Ipswich sparrow at the edge of Squibnocket Pond, a white-eyed vireo at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary in Edgartown and three orange-crowned warblers along the edge of the Katama airfield. His total for the day was 90 species!

On Oct. 19 Ken Magnuson sent fabulous photos of a rusty blackbird and four hermit thrushes that arrived at the Edgartown Golf Club. Ken met up with Bob Shriber at Aquinnah and they found both species of kinglets and a brown creeper. At Tashmoo, Lanny McDowell photographed a blackpoll warbler and spotted a ring-necked duck in with several wood ducks at Cranberry Acres.

October 18 Ken Magnuson had an orange-crowned warbler at the golf club as well as a peregrine falcon and sharp-shinned hawk. At the Gay Head Moraine, Ken met up with Lanny McDowell and found blue-headed vireo and golden-crowned kinglets. Flip Harrington and I went down Moshup’s Trail after seeing the orange-crowned warbler and found a blue-headed vireo, a swamp sparrow, a ruby-crowned kinglet and several myrtle warblers. Sharon Simonin photographed a pair of greater yellowlegs on the Lagoon by the lobster hatchery.

The photograph of the week belongs to Jeff Bernier who took a close up of the head of a yellow-crowned night heron he spotted at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary on Oct. 17.

October 16 Cheska Zayda sent a photograph of a clay-colored sparrow to show she was finally 100 per cent sure of the sparrows ID. Nice! She also sent a photo of an early male harlequin duck she took off Aquinnah.

Penny Uhlendorf and Scott Stephens of hummingbird fame sent photos of a late-visiting ruby-throated hummingbird that came to their Pilot Hill feeder on Oct. 16. The same day Lanny McDowell and Bob Shriber went to Cape Pogue where they found an American bittern. Back on the Vineyard, Jeff Bernier counted six American oystercatchers at Little Beach, one adult and five immature.

I am sure I have left some sightings out, my apologies.

Please report your bird sightings to

Susan B. Whiting is the co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is